Le’ts meditate a little bit on the most basic foundations of the Catholic and Christian faith. We read, about Jesus at the wedding: “His disciples began to believe in Him.” We want to follow Christ as disciples, too. So what exactly does a Christian disciple believe?
We believe in: God. The One, the only. Source and goal of all things. All-knowing, all-good, all-powerful. Everywhere, and greater than everything. Both more intimate and more transcendent than we can imagine. God. The Almighty.
We believe in Him. We acknowledge that to deny His existence seems irrational, considering things like sunsets, vast oceans, people as lovely as Michelle Dockery, not to mention the human soul. Only a fool denies the existence of God. But, by the same token, only a fool claims to know, to understand, to grasp God’s infinitely beautiful and spiritual mind.
When the disciples “began to believe” in Jesus, what exactly did they begin to believe? They did not begin to believe that He had a beard. They knew He had a beard. They did not begin to believe that He could attend weddings. They saw with their own eyes that He attended the wedding in Cana.
What they began to believe is: This man, Who turns water into fine wine, is God. He, Jesus, is The One in Whom believers believe. God made the heavens and the earth; He makes the mighty rivers flow. The disciples began to believe: Jesus of Nazareth is the One Who knit us all together in our mothers’ wombs!
This is what we call faith in the Incarnation. We believe not just that God could become man, if He so chose–which of course is true, since God is God and nothing less than omnipotent God. But we believe not only that the Incarnation is theoretically possible; we believe that it has, in fact, happened. Therefore, we make a big fuss at Christmas.
Okay, we done with the theology lesson? Not quite. St. Faustus did not say that the joyful marriage of man’s salvation involves confessing the Incarnation. We begin by believing in the Incarnation. The Word became incarnate for a reason: to reveal the unfathomable secret of God.
When the Lord Jesus came up out of the Jordan water, as we heard about last Sunday at Mass, He did not pat Himself on the head and declare with His own lips: “I am very pleased with myself.”
When He knelt to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane, He did not say, “Let this chalice pass from me. My own will be done.”
When He breathed His last on the cross, He did not groan and say, “Into my own hands I commend myself.”
No. When Jesus spoke, the One, eternal God spoke; the infinite and omnipotent spoke. The infinite and omnipotent Son prayed. He prayed to the infinite and omnipotent Father. God the Son has a father. God the Father has a Son.
And when God the Son finished the mission that God the Father had given Him to complete, God the Son sent the pure, glorious spirit of truth into the world. And that pure, omnipresent Spirit is God. He is neither the Father, nor the Son. He is the eternal Spirit of Jesus Christ, anointed by the heavenly Father.
Trinity. The one and only God is tri-une. The disciples began to believe this. We have begun to believe this. And I say “begun” because we will not successfully finish believing in the Trinity until we actually gaze upon this mystery, totally unveiled before our eyes.
Believing in the Trinity is not confusing. This dogma of faith does not make a mess out of rational thinking. Just the opposite. Believing in the Father, in Jesus, and in the Holy Spirit of Pentecost offers the human race the only real path to a life that makes sense.
Our job is not to understand the mystery. Our job is to share in it. To live in communion with Jesus, loving and serving the Father. We profess our faith in words, to be sure, by reciting the Creed–words that we would rather die than deny.
But the true profession of our faith is our lives. Lives lived–if I might dare to put it this way–lives lived “inside” the Trinity. By His life on earth, Jesus invited us inside the inner life of God. When we see, hear, react, think, judge, and act with Jesus, then we live in the embrace of the triune God.